Friday, January 25, 2008

Church of the Devil, Church of the Lamb

I had a wonderful insight when reading part of the Sunday School assignment this week, 1 Nephi 14. In it, Nephi takes us through a portion of the vision he had when he asked God to show him what his father saw. In verse 10 he mentions two churches: that of the Devil, referred to as a whore, and that of the Lamb of God.

I have often heard the Church of the Devil title attributed to the Catholic Church (mainly because of the mention of gold and such, and because of the size it.) I've never liked this thought. For one, there are at least thousands of pious, righteous people in the Catholic Church. For another, that line of thought leaves out a whole lot of very wicked people. Additionally, I have often heard the Church of the Lamb of God attributed to the LDS Church. After all, our numbers are small, yet they cover the whole earth. I thought that was more or less accurate.

However, in light of what has been so strongly on my mind lately, namely the damage we are doing to ourselves and to the innocent by venerating the Self, I suddenly understood a new meaning to the symbolism.

The Church of the Devil is called the whore of the whole earth. The concept of prostitution is that a person can go to fill sexual needs with no real consequence or relationship. A whore offers him/herself seemingly for nothing more than money, but the real consequences come only later in the form of disease and/or the loss of spiritual strength. Such is also true with the worship of the Self. The world tells us that WE are important, that OUR own needs have to be met. They tell us that we can buy whatever will fulfill that need, and not worry about the cost, we can pay it later. We are told there is no moral consequence for whatever we want to do, as long as it makes us happy. We are told that happiness is defined by having more, being better, smarter, richer, more powerful, more economic, more earth-friendly, more organic, more well-reasoned, more educated, more whatever. That is the church of the devil. That is the whore who sits upon the waters and reigns over all nations, kindreds, tongues and people.

Her counterpart is also significant. Never before I had thought about the meaning of the term "Church of the Lamb of God" as opposed to "Church of Christ" or "Savior" or "Messiah" or "Redeemer" or any number of other appellations. The "lamb" signifies sacrifice. It is not just any sacrifice, but a sacrifice for all people. Therefore, the Church of the Lamb of God is a church of sacrifice. This would seem to indicate that both churches cut easily across the lines of human establishment.

As such, in Nephi 14, we are shown two possible focuses for our lives, the focus on ourselves and our own needs and the focus on others, perhaps to sacrifice ourselves for them. Before anyone gets huffy, I do want to point out that there is moderation in all things. He who conserves his sacrificial energy lives to sacrifice another day. The point is not to run yourself to the ground, but to focus your thoughts and priorities on serving God's children.

You never know. If we all start focusing on others, we just might find our needs are met in the process better than we could ever have done on our own.

1 comment :

  1. Good point. To lose one self is to find one self. Sacrifice is trading something less for something greater. Compromise is trading something greater for something less. Maybe loving thy neighbor as thyself is like unto the greatest commandment. I think so. My neighbor is all around me and shows up every day. Even if he does belong to the church of the Devil. I still love him or her.


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